Walmart Sued for Alleged Misrepresentation of Great Value Granola Bars

A suit was filed last Thursday in the Southern District of New York Manhattan Courthouse by plaintiff Charlene Vazquez (both individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated) against defendant Walmart, Inc. The class action complaint alleges that Walmart intentionally misrepresented the components of their granola bars in an effort to appeal to consumers.

Walmart manufactures and markets granola bars which are represented on the labeling as containing oats and honey. The product is sold under their Great Value brand. In addition to “oats & honey,” the labeling of the granola bars also includes statements like “crunchy granola bars,” “sweet honey,” “made with whole grains,” and more. The labeling also includes a photo of a block of honey alongside the product on a picnic table.

The plaintiff contends that the representations on the labeling suggest to consumers that the product is “primarily sweetened with honey and contains limited ingredients based on the references to only oats and honey.” They explain that these representations are false and misleading since the product actually contains a de minimis amount of honey in comparison to conventional sugars.

The complaint cites data explaining that at least 50% of consumers are willing to pay more for foods whose primary sweetener is honey since honey is considered by consumers to be better for you and more natural. The director of the National Honey Board explained the consumer trend by stating that “honey fits perfectly with consumers’ desire to know where their food comes from and their preference for foods that are unprocessed.”

Walmart’s ingredient list on their product label reveals that the granola bars contain less than 2% of honey, which the complaint alleges is an insignificant, or de minimis, amount. When compared to the amount of sugar in the product, honey is just a minor ingredient. Vazquez asserts that “the front label promotion of only oats and honey dovetails with increased consumer demand for foods with limited, fewer ingredients.”

Vazquez specifies that the representations are misleading because the Product is not made with only oats and honey, but rather includes many other ingredients which are in larger quantities. She further states that “reasonable consumers must and do rely on a company to honestly and lawfully market and describe the components, attributes, and features of a product.”

The complaint cites violations of state consumer fraud acts, breaches of express warranty and implied warranty of merchantability, fraud, unjust enrichment, and more. Plaintiff Vazquez is seeking a trial by jury, class certification, monetary, statutory, and punitive damages, restitution, disgorgement, litigation fees, and any other relief deemed just by the court.

The plaintiff is represented by Sheehan & Associates, P.C.